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Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness(1971- )
Patrick Ness is an American author, journalist and lecturer who lives in London. He holds both American and British citizenship (British since 2005). He published his first story in Genre magazine in 1997 and was working on his first novel when he moved to London in 1999. Since then he has published four novels.He taught creative writing at Oxford University and has written and reviewed for The Daily Telegraph, The TLS, The Sunday Telegraph and The Guardian. He currently reviews for The Guardian.

The Knife of Never Letting Go: A voice that will stay with you

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go is the first book in the CHAOS WALKING trilogy by Patrick Ness. The series is set on a world colonized some time ago by settlers who met a few surprises upon their arrival. The biggest was the effect of a plague/virus, which caused all males (human and animal) to uncontrollably and constantly broadcast their thoughts so everyone hears what they were thinking. Because the thoughts couldn’t be turned off or tuned out, the constant background became known as “The Noise.” The second shock was that the planet held an intelligent native species the colonists call the Spackle. Between the ensuing war with the Spackle (won by the colonists), the social disruption caused by the Noise, and the general degradation of technology (often willful — the colonists wanted to get back to more basic, traditional living), l... Read More

The Ask and the Answer: Memorable characters and breakneck plotting

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

The Ask and the Answer is the second book in Patrick Ness’ CHAOS WALKING trilogy and picks up immediately where The Knife of Never Letting Go ended, with Todd surrendering to Mayor Prentiss in order to save Viola. This is the beginning of a complex relationship between the two as well as the bifurcation of Todd and Viola’s storylines. In the first, Todd, thanks to the Mayor’s control over what happens to Viola, becomes a grudging worker in the Mayor’s (now self-styled President) consolidation of his rule in New Prentisstown. He is thrown together with the Mayor’s son Davy — a sadistic, uncivilized young man who rarely thinks beyond himself. The main thrust of their work is to oversee and band a group of Spackle slaves.

Todd, therefore, is now navigating two new relationships — an increasingly s... Read More

Monsters of Men: A more than satisfying close

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

The final book in Patrick Ness’s CHAOS WALKING trilogy, Monsters of Men, brings this highly recommended series to a more than satisfying close. In doing so, much as he did with book two, Ness expands the storyline and the depth, in this case offering up an entirely new perspective.

Monsters of Men begins where The Ask and the Answer ended, with Todd freeing the Mayor and allowing him to take control of the city so as to defend it against the Spackle army that has just attacked, becoming one of his primary lieutenants in the process. Meanwhile, Viola is up in the hills with Mistress Coyle’s resistance/terrorist group, which is also where the new scout ship is, although the two pilots there are trying to remain wholly neutral, not just between the two human factions but in the Spackle-Human conflict as w... Read More

A Monster Calls: The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

At seven minutes past midnight, Conor O'Malley is visited by a monster. But it's not the monster he's expecting. This monster is wild and ancient. This monster comes in the form of a yew tree that usually stands atop the hill Conor can see from his bedroom window, in the middle of the graveyard. Except that now it is here, outside his bedroom window, and it wants something from Conor.

Conor O'Malley started getting nightmares after his mother got sick. In them he has terrible visions, visions which not even the monstrous yew can compare too, and it is perhaps for this reason that Conor is able to have a relatively nonplussed conversation with the tree outside his window. The mass of leaves and branches takes the shape of a man, and it seems to think Conor summoned him. The tree tells Conor he will tell him three true stories, after which Conor will have to tell the tree a truth in turn. When Conor r... Read More

More Than This: Original and refreshing YA

More Than This by Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness casts his line with five words, and we are hooked: “Here is the boy, drowning.” Seth is sixteen years old when we meet him, and about to die. He is out at sea with the icy tide dragging him out further and further in a terrifying opening for Ness’s Young Adult novel, More Than This. And then his shoulder blade “snaps in two so loudly he can hear the crack.” Seth drowns.

But impossibly, he wakes up. He finds himself in his childhood home in England, in a kind of twisted post-apocalyptic version of his past. It is completely abandoned, devoid of other humans, choked by overgrown weeds and everything covered in a thick layer of dust and dirt. The reader is as intrigued and lost as Seth is, and it is through his eyes that we must discover how and why Seth came to be here.

Ness paints Seth with utmost compassion and ... Read More

The Rest of Us Just Live Here: The invasion of Earth and other teenage problems

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

The problem with writing about unremarkable and average people is that they are unremarkable and average. In what is basically one long novel-sized homage to Xander from Buffy, Patrick Ness tackles what it is to be the underdog in his latest novel, The Rest of Us Just Live Here.

Mikey lives in a nondescript American town, trying to navigate the pitfalls of high school. There have been various catastrophes in the town’s history: a vampire invasion, a plague of soul-eating ghosts. When Ness mentions a time where the kids were bravely fighting cancer, it becomes obvious that he’s giving a sly nod to all the other YA franchises out there. Yet he chooses not to focus on the Bella Swans or the Katnisses or the Harry Potters or the Buffys. The focus of our story is t... Read More

Monstrous Affections: Chock full of horror and hormones

Monstrous Affections by Kelly Link & Gavin Grant 

Monstrous Affections: An Anthology of Beastly Tales, a new anthology by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, was an interesting and surprising read. Interesting because, duh, anything the duo behind Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet puts together has to be great. And surprising because nothing on the cover prepared me for its YA-focus.

And let’s talk about the cover for a second, because it is incredible. Red thistles explode out of line-drawn stems. Blood drips from the maw of a fully-colored toothy black beast as it crouches over a prone, line-drawn man... his prey, we assume. Out of the beast’s back arise feathered wings, again line-drawn. I love the contrast between beast and angel implicit in the central image, but I also love the contrast betwe... Read More